YMMV / Paper Mario 64

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: This game introduced the idea that Bowser has a romantic interest in Princess Peach, a concept that would become a staple of the Paper Mario series. Bowser is also more immature in this game than in previous incarnations, producing the Franchise Original Sin for Bowser's Villain Decay.
  • Best Level Ever:
    • Chapter 4, with its very unique toybox aesthetic, the introduction of one of the most useful partners, and having one of the most fun boss fights in the game at the end.
    • Chapter 7 is also very fun, thanks to its aesthetics, interesting events, the Crystal Palace dungeon and of course, its boss fight at the end, the Crystal King.
  • Best Boss Ever:
    • Bowser. His fight in this game is widely seen as one of his best boss battles, being a challenging but not overly difficult boss with epic music, several tactics and attacks, and more. It's especially satisfying to beat him after he wiped the floor with you back in the game's opening act.
    • In fact, most boss fights count, particularly the main ones. They're among the best parts in the game, for involving skill and strategy in unique ways and taking the battle system to its limit, among several other reasons. Some bosses that deserve a mention include General Guy, the Crystal King, the Koopa Bros., Lava Pirahna, Tubba Blubba's Heart- screw it, let's just say that every major boss is awesome, even the dreaded Huff n' Puff (which becomes a lot more satisfying after you finally beat him). As fun as the boss fights are, it's something that the sequel would repeat and do even better.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome:
    • Even though you have eight party members, it is easy to just stick with Goombario most of the time, since he will tell you interesting info about every area and person, reveal the health of enemies, and his basic attack is one point stronger than everyone but Bow. If you equip Quick Change, it is even easier, since you can just retrieve a party member that can defeat an enemy that Goombario cannot, and switch him back afterward.
    • Watt's basic attack ignores enemies' defense, which is really useful against later bosses. She can also attack flying enemies, but does not jump on them, avoiding damage from spiked enemies. In the field, she also reveals hidden item blocks.
    • The only thing nearly anyone ever levels up is the Badge Points stat (BP) to get access to as many badges as possible. An NPC can be paid to relocate the extra 5 HP you start with (you start with 10) to BP so that Mario is permanently in the Danger state and can always reap the rewards of many badges that take effect in this state. These badges do things like increase Mario's attack and defence, and even make enemies miss sometimes, and they stack, so you make Mario able to do tons of damage and take absolutely none, effectively turning on god mode. This is known as the "Danger Mario" build.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Clefts have 2 Defense and are spiked so that you can't jump on them. They're also frequently encountered throughout Mt. Rugged.
    • The Anti Guy, with its 50 HP and 10 Attack, will slaughter any player that doesn't level up extensively through grinding. If you fail the Quiz portion of Bowser's Castle, you'll have to fight three Anti Guys at once. Unless you're cheating, overpowered or stocked up on items specifically for them, you should reset the game and save yourself from a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • The Dark Koopas are very annoying to fight as well, since they have a move that can put Mario into Dizzy-state, making him completely useless for two turns. The problem here is that, more often than not, you fight against multiple Dark Koopas at the same time, and they all like to use that Dizzyfying move on him, giving him absolutely no chance of recovering from it. If you don't have the Feeling Fine badge equippednote  and you're out of FP when that happens, you might as well reload from your last saved point.
    • Hammer Bros. in Bowser's Castle. They have a whopping 12 HP, won't flip over like other shelled enemies, and their hammer throws have the possibility of making Mario shrink, cutting his attack power by half. It gets worse when their HP drops below four and can throw a flurry of hammers at him. Their annoyance is even Lampshaded by Goombario.
    • The Bzapp! (exclamation mark included) you can find in Forever Forest has terrifying attack power at that point of the game. They're Glass Cannons though, so it's all a matter of killing them before they kill you.
  • Ear Worm: The Koopa Bros. themes. Both the battle and cutscene themes.
  • Fanon: Star Haven is very commonly believed to be the very same Star Road from Super Mario RPG but with a different name. Furthermore, Geno is is a Star Kid, and the "higher authority" he claims to serve may in fact be the Star Spirits.
  • First Installment Wins: A small but somewhat vocal portion of the fanbase finds this game to be the best game in the series, better than even The Thousand-Year Door which is believed to be an Even Better Sequel by other fans.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • You might notice that this game has the exact same Excuse Plot that Sticker Star was criticized for having. The difference is that this game has better characterization to distract from that and came out before Mario RPGs started to use complex plots.
    • The first signs of Bowsers's Villain Decay, which would persist until Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, were present here in is immature personality. That this game had Bowser defeat Mario for the first time ever, gave him a serious Leitmotif, and had him such a serious threat it took the entire game to stop him made it unnoticeable without hindsight, when the seriousness was transferred to other villains.
  • Game Breaker:
    • The Mystery item is a minor one. In battle, it takes the effect of a random item, from a healing Mushroom, to a powerful Thunder Bolt, to a rock that damages Mario. Not so great unless you're in the Random Number God's good graces. Its real value, however, comes from Item Crafting. By giving them over to Tayce T. to cook, you can potentially obtain any craftable item in the game, including ones you're not supposed to get until much later. Most of the time, however, you'll get a Mistake (a Joke Item that only restores 1HP and 1FP apiece), but even that can be utilized by selling them at Boo's Manor for five coins. Conveniently, Boo's Manor sells Mysteries for only 1 coin, giving you a 4 coin profit even in the worst case scenario.
    • A powerful game breaker that carries over into the sequel is Power Bounce. Power Bounce allows Mario to attack an indefinite amount of times (though usually 6-9) using his jump. By itself the attack is merely useful, allowing you to easily do a good 10 damage in a single turn. The real strength of the badge comes through in combination with attack boosters and Jump Charge. Power Bounce's strength increases dramatically with each extra attack point Mario has. Getting all the possible attack boosting badges, Spike Shield, and making use of Jump Charge or Super Jump Charge can let you destroy every single enemy in the game including Bowser or The Master within a few turns. This is made more potent by the fact that it's possible to get Jump Charge by Chapter 2, and both Attack Plus badges during Chapter 4, with All Or Nothing not long afterwards.
    • The otherwise-underwhelming HP Drain badge combos nicely with Power Bounce. Under normal circumstances, it drops Mario's attack power by 1 in exchange for healing 1 HP every time you attack. With Power Bounce, however, each consecutive jump counts as an attack, letting Mario heal up to 5HP per turn, which is more than most non-boss enemies can take off in one turn if you're good at blocking and have some defensive badges.
    • Money can be easily acquired in absurd amounts early on with the combination of Pay-Off and Money Money. Payoff increases the amount of Money earned in proportion to how much damage you took, while Money Money doubles the amount of coins earned. Combining the two together lets you get hundreds of coins per chapter and potentially even buy out Rowf's badge shop after every chapter. Pay-Off is available almost immediately, and Money Money can be acquired by the start of Chapter 3 with vigorous Star Piece hunting. The only snag is balancing your health out, though even then, a skilled or well-prepared player can heal or conserve damage to counteract the risks.
    • While the cooking Item Crafting system of the game is generally overlooked, it can yield some surprisingly effective healing items for little to no cost. Dry Pasta from Dry Dry Outpost will give you Pasta if cooked by itself, which restores six HP and four FP. For only three coins, this a much more cost efficient healing item than Mushrooms at that point in the game, and really useful on a low HP run if you plan on abusing the aforementioned Danger Mario setup. Similarly, once you can combine two items together, you get access to one of the best healing items in the game: The Bland Meal. It heals ten HP and FP and its ingredients, the Goomnut and Koopa Leaf, can be gotten for no coins whatsoever and with little effort thanks to the warp pipes that take you to the areas where they're gotten from being close together once you unlock the sewer area. Also, unlike the Whacka's Bump, the ingredients for this item will never run out. Once you can make this thing, you'll almost never need to spend coins on healing items ever again.
    • Repel Gel is this game's equivalent to Red Essence, granting Mario a few turns of complete invincibility. It's even stronger here than in the previous game because usually, Mario is the only party member who takes damage.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: One of Luigi's diary entries has him saying he wants to be the star in an adventure someday, and he'd like his name to be in the title, but he knows that'll never happen. Luigi would eventually get his wish with Luigi's Mansion.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Fuzzies, who absorb Mario's HP with every bite and, in the case of the jungle ones, have to be pulled off with quicktime events. Fortunately, the Zap Tap badge hard-counters them, ensuring that they can't even hurt Mario and take damage whenever they try.
    • Spy Guys can literally hammer away Mario's Action Commands, making them obnoxious to fight when they are paired with enemies that might require Jumps (Sky Guys and Medi Guys) or Hammers (Pyro Guy) to beat. Thankfully, you can at least manipulate them to never use their hammer attack.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Boos who terrorized Tubba Blubba before he gained his powers. However, while Bow admits she's not sorry, she promises that they'll leave him alone after Mario defeats him.
  • Memetic Badass: Goompa is the best partner in the game, no doubt.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moral Event Horizon: Huff N. Puff — unlike the other, Punch Clock Villain bosses — invokes It's All About Me to the point of willfully turning Flower Fields into a cloud-based Mordor that's heavily implied to be reducing the life forces of its plant inhabitants.
  • Sacred Cow: Not to the same extent as its successor, but still counts since the game is still highly regarded like it was back when it was released, and is considered by most fans as the second-best (or at least arguably tied with the third game) in the series, if not the best. It helps that the game also uses the "Bowser kidnaps Peach" scenario like in Sticker Star, but unlike that one the game had excellent characterization and world-building to make up for it, something that the next two games would do even better.
  • The Scrappy: Rosie in Chapter 6. Her sheer It's All About Me makes her outright willing to sacrifice Lily's health and hydration rather than just give up her favorite MacGuffin — which, after Rosie begrudgingly relents, is shown to be easily replaceable anyway. Afterward, does she at least become a Jerk with a Heart of Gold regarding Lily? Nope, Rosie just feels glad there's not one less person to show off in front of. Therefore, it's unsurprising that many fans view her as the one Flower Fields resident actually deserving of Huff N. Puff's Mordor — and, consequently, a Karma Houdini after his defeat.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: It's very easy to get addicted to raising Lil Oinks, especially since they can give out the best healing items in the game.
  • So Cool, It's Awesome: Like its successor, this game is held in a high pedestal, albeit not to the same extent. But it deserves credit for introducing the formula and being an amazing game on its own right, with its excellent gameplay, unique and memorable characters, and original spin on the usual "Bowser is the bad guy" formula. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms about Sticker Star was that it also had said scenario, but played it in a far more simplistic, generic way, unlike with this game.
  • That One Attack: While the Final Boss (Bowser, obviously) isn't overwhelming, he will occasionally use the Star Rod to A) hit both you or your partner, KOing them for three turns if you don't block, and debuffing both or B) Restore 30 HP.
  • That One Boss:
    • Huff 'n' Puff is widely considered to be one of the most annoying fights in the game due to inflicting a lot of damage and being an Asteroids Monster that can reform himself; the player has to kill the parts of him that break off to do any lasting damage. Though Lakilester can be used to dispose of his minions, not every player will think of this.
    • Bowser can also be this for the unprepared. Along with the Master's third form, he has the highest HP in the entire game (just below 100), he has several dangerous attacks that do a lot of damage and can inflict status ailments (as well as That One Attack listed above), and is preceded by a long sequence that includes two scripted fights and some long cutscenes. It's certainly not as tough as the sequel's Final Boss, but he's no pushover either, and will wipe the floor with you if you're careless.
  • That One Level:
    • Flower Fields. While not overly hard, it's a level that tends to overstay its welcome for several reasons. Firstly, expect to do a lot of back and forth ping-ponging through its areas carrying items back and forth, and because of the "gating" system for areas, you'll have to sack a few healing items in your very limited inventory in order to get to these areas. On top of that, the area has what is widely considered to be annoying (as noted by That One Boss above) and because of the events of the story, it has a very gloomy and dull atmosphere to it for a greater part of your time there, making the whole area feel like a drag to play through. It's also very long.
    • Navigating Dry Dry Desert to find Dry Dry Ruins can be a pain if you do not know where you are going. The only hint you have is the gem you are given by Moustafa which blinks faster as you get closer to where you have to go. Dry Dry Desert is an 7x7 grid full of annoying enemies. And this is before you consider the other things you can find there.
    • The Crystal Palace. Loads of Demonic Spiders, including Swoopulas, White Clubbas, Duplighosts, and several different varieties of Magikoopas, as well as a rather confusing layout where certain rooms are "mirrored". Examples include breaking a Spin Jump panel or pushing a statue in one area and then having to backtrack to the other side of the mirror and go to the new path that the previous action unlocked, which the game doesn't really hint at all that much.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Lakilester and Sushie are probably two of the most underused party members due to their rather middle-of-the-road skillsets, particularly for the point that they're acquired in the story, being the last two party members earned. Sushie sees some use in Chapter 5 due to her water skills being effective against the Fire enemies there, and Water Block is a decent defense buff, but she falls out of favor later on due to the difficult action commands her higher-powered attacks require. Lakilester has the unfortunate fate of being badly Overshadowed by Awesome, lacking the attack power to make himself an offensive asset while also having a mediocre defensive skill. Parakarry and Watt both have moves with the same effect as either of his attacks, and Cloud Nine is much less reliable compared to defense boosts, since it relies on the Random Number God being on your side. However, Lakilester can transport Mario faster on the overworld and Cloud Nine stacks with the other evasion boosts on a Danger Mario build.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While not at first, it's later revealed near the end of Chapter 3 that the reason why Tubba Blubba joined Bowser and wreaked havoc on the Boo community was due to them having bullied him over the years. With this in mind, the Boos you've been helping out might come off as Asshole Victims, and it doesn't help that Bow is shown to not regret this a bit (though she does agree to leave him alone from now on).
  • What an Idiot: A few times. Bombette and the Bob-Ombs in chapter one are trapped in a cage. Said cage has a cracked wall Bombette can easily destroy. She does this immediately after joining you and claims she just didn't think to do it before. Then of course there's Jr. Troopa, who swims between Toad Town and Lavalava Island to chase Mario, and back again. He forgets that he can fly, making him a much easier opponent.
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